In this Washington Post article, Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, the former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, discusses climate change in theological terms: specifically, whether humans bear moral responsibility for extreme weather.
Dr. Thistlethwaite explores the many aspects of sin in context of human responsibility, focusing on carbon pollution and climate change denial. Thistlethwaite also covers climate solutions, discussing personal action as well as policy solutions. She advocates that there is “a theological prescription, in a classical sense, for what we must do.”
Christian theology distinguishes between “natural evil,” that is, destruction and suffering that can be caused by natural phenomena like earthquakes or storms, and moral evil, the kind of evils that result from the interlocking effects of human sin.
Is the destructiveness of Typhoon Haiyan a tragedy of “natural evil,” the kind of horrible occurrence that occurs randomly in nature? Or, is it actually moral evil, traceable to human sin?
There is no doubt this storm is a massive evil. Haiyan, with its sustained wind speeds of 150 to 170 mph, is among the strongest storms on record and it has produced mass suffering and death, as well as widespread destruction.